Lawyers Represented

I’ve been browsing newspapers and recent judgments this evening (yes, for fun on a Friday night). Lawyers don’t come out of it too well so far:

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At the bar we have reports of a £34,000,000 discrimination claim by one barrister against three QCs and a senior clerk. In a story that resembles stereotypical ideas and tv drama representations of the bar in too many ways to make comfortable reading for the rest of us in the profession, an Indian born barrister is claiming that her senior clerk and chambers discriminated against her in terms of the allocation of work and recovery of fees. The heads of chambers are named personally as individual defendants, and two of the three were allegedly too distracted by their affairs with the senior clerk to effectively deal with the claims of ongoing discrimination (Heads of Chambers being ultimately responsible for equal ops in chambers). I don’t know what area of practice the Claimant in this case was in before leaving the bar in 2006 but if one assumes her 34 mil claim is primarily based on loss of earnings I think we can safely rule out the possibility that she was a member of the family bar. £1m a year for the rest of her working life? Nice work if you can get it love. Who KNOWS how much more entertaining yet excrutiating detail will come from the Employment Tribunal before this sorry mess is resolved? One thing is for sure it isn’t going to do much for our reputation as a profession.

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The Times’ Lawyer of the Week piece has sparked fierce debate in our household about whether or not an alleged rapist whose conviction has been quashed should be able to sue the alleged rape victim for malicious prosecution. And it was whilst searching (unsuccessfully) on Baiili for the judgment (in which the Court of Appeal apparently ruled that such an attack was contrary to public policy)* that I came across the next course in our menu:

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Withers LLP are being sued by Marco Pierre White for damages in respect of an assortment of unusual tortious acts. If you ARE the kind of person who likes to read judgments on a Friday night I have to commend this to you. It is a magical combination of sordid celebrity intrigue and really interesting and novel legal questions, mostly explored in some detail and then abandoned without resolution as is often the way with an appeal against a strike out (I am put in mind of a small child momentarily turning a small wondrous object in his hand before casting it aside to rush to another more fascinating item). The appeal was successful. Mr White’s claim proceeds.

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To summarise brutally: Marco Pierre White sues his ex wife’s matrimonial solicitors for allegedly advising his wife to wrongfully intercept and retain documents and for themselves retaining those documents. The judgment opens up an enormously complex legal hinterland which is the interplay between family and civil law and the applicability of torts such as trespass to goods and conversion to actions which have long been to some extent sanctioned if not approved by family courts in the course of family proceedings. For the non-lawyers amongst us, the question is whether taking your exes documents to prove they are hiding the money for your divorce, and keeping hold of those documents is something which can put you at risk of having to pay damages to your ex, even though the family court would let you use them. What this judgment tells us is that it might just do that, but you’ll have to wait until the trial, and maybe you’ll have to wait for another case to get as far as the court of appeal for a full set of answers. Celebrity bunfighting, lawyers squirming in the witness box, and grave and weighty questions of public policy: great recipe Marco. It does make it rather difficult to advise clients in financial proceedings with any degree of certainty.

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Judge John Deed? Pah. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

* can anyone tell me where to find this?

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